Register Login
DioEnglish.com Return Index

louislaolu's Space http://www.dioenglish.com/?28267 [Favorites] [Copy] [Shares] [RSS]

Blogs

A Walking Dictionary or Walking with a Dictionary?

1391 views. 2012-2-26 14:51

   I am known to my collegues for being absent-minded, yet they would come to me when they have problems with English words. Not infrequently did I help them out so some of them dubbed me as a walking dictionary. Do I have a photographic memory and a very large vocabulary? Absolutely not. On the contrary, my memory is like a seive. (Otherwise, I wouldn't be so absent-minded). As for my vocalulary, it only has a size slightly above average. Although I know they can't be serious, I still feel embarrassed. In my mind, only such learned scholars as Lin Yutang and Qian Zhongshu match that title. Therefore, I immediately corrected them, saying that I am, at best, walking with a dictioanry. Now you know what I am going to talk about. Dictioanries and their indispensable roles in learning English, which is at least the case with me.
   This website boasts a willing-to-share spirit. Many bloggers posted their learning secrets. Some of them I am already practicing, others I am eager to give a try. However, I  noticed that few would mention dictioanries as part of their recipe for success. As I see it, the role of dictionaries can't be overestimated. It's true that people have chances to receive formal English training in the classroom. But learning is a lifetime mission and learning a foreign language is certainly no exception. Recent research shows that most learning occurs outside the classroom. In addition, what if the day comes when one graduates and find teachers and textbooks unavailable. (In fact, a few people hold that these two resources are helpless, if not harmful, in their learning of a foreign language). It's at this point that dictionaries come to the fore.
    People often say that dictionaries are teachers without speaking and college without walls. That is to say, dictionaries are the best weapons for autonomous learning. Learner's dictioanries, specially designed for second or foreign language learning, serve this purpose best. Suppose you have an idea, the next thing you need do is find the right word or expression to convey your idea. You go to a Chinese-English dictionary, following the entry word are a number of candidates. Those so-called equivalents place you under the false impression that they are the right vehicles for your intended idea. If you pick out one at random and use it, chances are that you either express something totally diffrent from your original intention or simply confuse your reader/ listeners.  Owing to the disparities between English and Chinese, complete equivalents seldom exist. You will have to look up those words in an English dictionary and decide which is close to what you want to express. Even after you find the right word or expression, how to use it properly is still a problem. A good learner's dictionary should offer you information as to what element precedes or follows the key term. And a better one goes further by telling you what are the common errors to avoid. Here are my two favorite dictionaries. Collins Cobuild English Dictionary for Advanced Learers and Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners. In addition to the general design features of a leaner's dictioanry, the former uses sentences to define words i.e. definitions alone teach you how to use words correctly; the latter provides metaphorical information. For instance, knowing that being angry is like being hot or on fire enables you to understand why English has such expressions as He has a fiery temper. Jack was a hot-tempered young man. Their parents were having a heated argument/​debate about where to go, and thus facilitates the memory of them.   
     Despite the important roles dictionaries play in language study, learners should be on the alert for overreliance on them. Some people don't bother to remember words because they think that they always have dictionaries at their disposal. However, being the owner of a dictionary doesn't mean that one possesses knowledge contained in it. 
     Few people are gifted enough to be walking dictionaries, but all can walk with dictionaries at the very least.

Post comment Comment (15 replies)

Reply lushanshan9010 2012-2-26 17:12
Well said. I am definitely on your side. like what you have said, learning a language is a lifelong journey. A dictionary will come in handy when needed most but we should not rely on it too much as english is a foreign language to us. best grab the words and brand them on our hearts, which allows us to blurt them out whenever using or producing articles. words just flow if we save them just for a "rainy day"!
Reply rich 2012-2-26 19:15
wonderful article. very impressive! and i totally agree with you. i believe as a foreign learner of the english language, one cannot go very far if he doesn't have the habit of using dictionaries. to tell you the truth, i've worn out several New English-Chinese Dictionaries and one Oxford English Dictionary. currently i use Longman Dictionary of contemporary english as well as collins cobuild english dictionary. i don't know if we own the same kind, but mine without "for advanced learners". maybe yours is really more advanced. hehe.
Reply snowflying 2012-2-26 19:16
english dictionary is nesessary to any english learner, so do me. but i can't do is as what you said. maybe my hard work is still not enough.  sometimes i feel the words meaning through consulting english dictionary are so more and complexed. how to remember those many different meanings of one same word? the bad trouble  of mine is plus another one. i can understand a word's meaning basically, but always can't apply it. when i wanna convey my brain through my english words, always can't seek the correct one to the just very original meaning. if read from other place or articles, i can know its chinese meaning, but when i use it, all wnglish words i have understood will be  gone. that's really a longtime works to stick to, maybe any method is only a theory, the tough hard learning can't be repaaced by any other way. so admire you, teacher.
Reply Soar 2012-2-26 19:52
No wonder our English teachers always take one or two dictionaries with him.
Reply XueHaiWuYa 2012-2-27 23:00
The article is well written and informative, I surely appreciate your kind sharing, and will take a look at those dictionaries you mentioned.
I love dictionaries. Looking up words in dictionaries is like hunting treasure in a wonderland from which I can discover magic wands to give me power and improve my mind. I cherish the treasure and try to store them up as much as possible for my future profit.
Reply louislaolu 2012-2-28 22:15
rich: wonderful article. very impressive! and i totally agree with you. i believe as a foreign learner of the english language, one cannot go very far if he
Glad to know that we have one more thing in common. New English-Chinese dictionary is one of the time-hornored and popular learner's dictionaries compiled by Chinese scholars. Worn out several already? I wonder how many times you use a dictionary each day. You are a highly motivated learner. I guess the reason I failed to worn out any dictionaries is that I like using electronic dictionaries. There is no way of wearing out an E-dictionary. I need to check if the two dictionaries are for advanced learners, but that is beside the point.  Just because I am using a dictionary for advanced learners does not mean that I am at the advanced level. Compared with my students, I am a learner advanced in age.
Reply louislaolu 2012-2-28 22:26
Soar: No wonder our English teachers always take one or two dictionaries with him.
As a teacher myself, I understand why your English teachers carry one two dictionaries. They take it as their duty to answer every question raised by students about English. They don't want lose face in front of their students. However, few in the world are blessed with a photographic momery. Therefore, when their memory fails them, they would naturally turn to a dictionary to check the spelling, pronuciation or meaning of a word.
Reply louislaolu 2012-2-28 22:34
snowflying: english dictionary is nesessary to any english learner, so do me. but i can't do is as what you said. maybe my hard work is still not enough.  sometim
It is difficult for beginners to use an all-Englsih dictionary. They might try a bilingualized one, that is, an English dictionary with Chinese translations. In fact, I prefer to use an translated one. Although English definitions help me understand words correctly, they sometines confuse me. When this happens, I combine the English definitions with their Chinese translations so that I can get a full picture of their meanings.
Reply louislaolu 2012-2-28 22:45
lushanshan9010: Well said. I am definitely on your side. like what you have said, learning a language is a lifelong journey. A dictionary will come in handy when need
You like to use phrases and idioms and that's why your English sounds so idiomatic. Learning by heart you've found in dictionaries and using them when need for them arise. I guess that's where you benefit from your looking-up experiences.
Reply louislaolu 2012-2-28 22:52
XueHaiWuYa: The article is well written and informative, I surely appreciate your kind sharing, and will take a look at those dictionaries you mentioned.
I love d
Hunting treasure in a wonderland. Sounds very impressive. I like this comparison because that's exactly how I feel. However, like a greedy person who wants to put all treasures into the bag but sadly finds the bag limited in capacity and himself unable shoulder such a load, I try to remember all useful expressions only to retain one while lose another. I strongly recommend you try using the second one, which is characterized by some original design features and the electronic version of which is even better.
Reply lushanshan9010 2012-2-28 23:25
You know why i like using idioms and slangs, firstly, they are symbols of native english, another reason i have found lies in the convienence of making up sentences, which is easily to frame a sentence and better get myself across to others. Honestly, i very much like the way the native speakers use to express themselves. every time i felt shamed about the pidgin english i have learnt and that derives from culture differences, thereafter i resolved to make the king's english my world of expertise one day.
Reply rich 2012-2-29 09:02
louislaolu: Glad to know that we have one more thing in common. New English-Chinese dictionary is one of the time-hornored and popular learner's dictionaries comp
You made me laugh. hehe. You're really a humorous person. one of the reasons that i have worn out several New English-Chinese Dictionaries is that these thick bricks were of poor quality, plus possibly the bad habit of using dictionaries. hoping to see more of your writings. have a nice day, my dear friend!
Reply XueHaiWuYa 2012-2-29 21:21
Happy to know I am not alone in finding fun in using dictionaries. I know I should not be too greedy when it comes to learning new words, but very often, I am carried away by some new discoveries....
Thank you for your recommendation. Enjoy reading your posts and hope to see more. Hehe.
Reply hurrymm 2012-3-4 14:34
To be honest, I am kind of over-reliant on dictionaries, as I scarcely find the courage to post publicly without reference to dictionaries. Over-reliance on dictionary also results in my ignorance to spelling as writing on computer is greatly facilitated with the self-proofreading function of Microsoft Word. Supposing I sit for an paper exam, I take it that the results will be far from heartening. Hehe
Reply bluephoebe 2012-4-17 15:37
Fascinating! I am totally agree with the way you use the dictionary. When a problem coming up, consulting only English-to-Chinese is really not enough, English-English dictionary can help us understanding more about the word, not only its meaning, but also the way to use it properly. My favorite is Longman Dictionary of Comtemporary English

facelist doodle 涂鸦板

You need to login first Login | Register

每周一篇英文日志,坚持一年,你的英语能力将发生质的飞跃!

DioEnglish.com --- A Nice Place to Practice English and Make New Friends!

English Writing, English Blog, English Diary, 英语角, 英语写作, 英文写作, 英语交流, 英语日记, 英语周记, 英文日记, 英语学习, 英语写作网, 英语作文大全

Website Rules|Contact Us|茶文化|英文博客网 ( 京ICP备06064874号-2 )

GMT+8, 2024-4-25 19:07

Powered by DioEnglish.com

© 2008-2013 China English Blogs

Top